Charlie and the Pirates
Swoosh! Swoosh! The net swayed through the pond weed.
Stab! Stab! The net poked at the pond weed.
Whoosh! Charlie scooped up a clump and swung it into the air. The green weed shot up and up and up and when it couldn’t go any further – it stopped in the middle of the air and plummeted – down and down and … splat!
Charlie leaned further over the pond str-e-e- e-tch-ing to recapture his green ‘weed-monster’.
He touched it. Then he gave it a tap.
Charlie froze and opened his eyes very VERY wide and stared as his ‘weed-monster’ exploded out of the pond on top of …of a …. man’s head!
Charlie, sat very still, he watched and listened as the splishing, splashing, coughing and spluttering swirled around the garden. He stared in amazement as a wobbling waterfall sloshed towards him. Charlie made himself very small.
Water skidded around the man’s helmet. It tumbled down soaking into his tunic and pouring out of his sleeves. The water struggled to wriggle through his beard but streamed down his nose and leapt off the end. The man spun round and a whole sheet of water flew off his cloak.
“ Well Stab a Saxon that was a good breakout!” He drew his sword and waved it around making shapes in the air. He stood still and tipped his head from side to side. Water spurtled out of his ears.
“Shh-l-urp!” he noisily sucked his beard and launched a bubbling burp.
“Ah ….you can’t beat a drop of fresh water. No salt – what a treat!”
The man shook himself like a dog. Charlie got drenched and curled up even smaller hoping to disappear. Bravely, he peaked through a gap in his fingers.
“ Bertie! BERTIE where in Odin’s name are you? Get your pathetic person out here where I can see you? B E R T I E it wasn’t a difficult porthole. Even a feeble pathetic pirate like you should be able to manage it. I’ve told you before – empty your mind. I don’t have any problem at all. It’s SOOOOO easy!”
Charlie parted his fingers but couldn’t see who was being shouting at. He tried to be a statue, his mum had told him once that the best way to handle a scary dog or a stingy wasp was to stay perfectly still and then, in the end, the whatever-it-was would get bored and go away. ‘In the end’ didn’t seem to be happening.
There seemed to be a commotion among the water-lilies at the far end of the pond. They were wiggling and jiggling as if trying to escape.
The flowers became frantic when POP! A small, neat head bobbed up to the surface. A pair of round, wire spectacles were hanging off one ear and a pink lily was trapped behind the other.
“Here I am Captain Smorgas,” spluttered the small head. “I’m afraid it was the same old problem – just too much going on in my mind.”
Bertie sploshed out of the pond, adjusted his spectacles and blew his nose using his wet hanky.
“Stab a Saxon Bertie! How many times have I told you. Use your sleeve ….pirates do NOT use hankies – it’s a very bad habit to get into. Have I taught you nothing? Great Gods!
Don’t just stand there dripping. Go and find someone to rob, or even better, something to kill.”
”Why not? There must be something nearby worth a plunder or a stabbing.”
“We could always rob that small boy sitting over there.”
“W ho? Where?”
Charlie sucked in so that he would shrink away.
The captain’s eyes worked like a pair of hunting telescopes. They scanned the garden, hovering, then locked onto the target.
Charlie was dead-still.
Oy! You with the exploding hair – name yourself.”
Charlie lifted his head.
“Charlie. Charlie Chuckleworth”
It started as a sort of hiccup and grew to rumbling. Then a huge gulping, golumptious guffaw exploded from Captain Smorgas.
“Chuckleworth,” he rolled the name round his mouth so he could taste it. He repeated it curling the letters over his tongue – “ Chuckleworth – whatever sort of a name is that?”
Charlie had always thought his name to be perfectly normal. He liked his name. He thought it was cheerful. He was cross. This Captain was being very rude. He forgot to be a statue and sat up.
“What’s your name?”
“ Captain Smorgas Board”
“How peculiar,” Charlie felt bold. “I’ ve heard of a white board, a cheese board, an ironing board and a surf board but a smorgas board , that’s REALLY odd. Certainly odder than Chuckleworth”
“AGHHHHH!” The sword was in the air and Captain Smorgas Board was hurtling towards Charlie as fast as his wet soggy clothes would allow. “ Say ‘ello to Brainbasher,” he bellowed and he gave his brain bashing sword a menacing flick and pointed it at Charlie.
Charlie leapt up and dived behind Bertie.
“Captain,” squeaked Bertie. Then in desperation, “STOP! Remember modern day pirates DON’T DO killing…STOP…please!
“Oh Saxon Juice it’s so not fair – I hate being modern.” He huffed and he puffed and then he marched up to a tree and hacked a few branches off.
“Oh that’s going to make my mum hopping mad,” gasped Charlie.
“Better a few branches than your head,” muttered Bertie.
As Charlie nodded a flying potato flew over his head. It went sailing through the air and BOING bounced off Captain Smorga’s helmet. Smorgas caught it on the rebound and after a quick inspection and a lot of sniffing, took a large bite out of it.
“Chomp! Chomp! Scrunch! Crunch! Slurp!” went Captain Smorgas.
Then a strangled,“gerrrr….ummm…gaallumph!” The potato was swallowed.
“AGHH! That’s better. Breakouts always me peckish.”
“Duck!” yelled Bertie but the missile struck Captain Smorgas smack on his nose.
“Oh no! Oh no! Oh Bother and Bobbins! There’s blood, there’s blood,” and tripping over the long strap on his shoulder bag, Bertie stumbled towards Captain Smorgas.
Smorgas didn’t move but his eyes searched the horizon, hunting down his enemy.
“Let me look. Let me look! Does it hurt?” Bertie didn’t wait for answers but ferreted in his bag searching and muttering to himself, “bandage that’s what I need, a bandage. Now where is it? Must be here….”
“Oh Thundering Gods what sort of pirate do you take me for. I want scars…the more the nastier. Blood is good for pirates.”
The ‘blood’ was trickling down his face.
Charlie, still shaken by the charging pirate, stared in disbelief, “Excuse me Captain Smorgas Board but that’s a tomato.”
“A what – o?”
“Oh yes, yes,” chirped up Bertie. “It is indeed a tomato but a very very ripe one…and how very silly of me not to recognise it.”
“Never heard of it,” said Captain Smorgas as he stuck out his tongue to scoop the juice.
“Well,” started Bertie , “It’s actually an edible fruit that…..”
“ Oh DO be quiet….thralls should only speak when ordered to,” and with that, he noisily sucked and slurped tomato juice into his mouth.
“What’s a thrall?” Charlie asked .
Bertie clamped his lips together and glared nervously at Captain Smorgas.
“It means he’s my slave. I captured him years ago,” boasted Captain Smorgas. “Caught him all by myself, no help, didn’t even need Brainbasher; just put me ‘ands round his throat and told him I’d pull his head off if he didn’t come quietly, so he came. He is rather an inferior slave though. I would have liked a more impressive one, he’s very weedy.” Sighing loudly, he added, “even reads and writes. Still the rest of the crew bagged all the good ones while Iwas still getting out of the boat – my leg got tangled up with the oar and…”
“More coming over, “shouted Charlie and an exercise book and a plastic box hurtled over the wall. The box caught Captain Smorgas a flying smack before bouncing to the ground and the exercise book, flapping its pages, landed at Bertie’s feet.
“ Oh I say, I say,” squealed Bertie with excitement, “It’s a book with writing in it. Look! Real HAND writing. Oh Golly! Oh Gosh!”
Bertie bristled with excitement.
“That’s my school book,” Charlie said sadly and pointing in the direction of the wall added, “Trevor, from next door, grabbed it off me in the playground.” Charlie shuddered as he remembered.
“You mean this is your handwriting – you did all this?” Bertie was amazed.
Charlie gulped, “Yes I know, I know it’s not very good Miss Parrott is always telling me to, “do better,” but it doesn’t seem to happen.”
“Not good enough!” exclaimed Bertie, “it’s magnificent – it’s splendiferously magnificent.”
“You think so?”
“Absolutely, certainly and truly. Why you are only a small boy. A small boy who writes! Why it’s impossible – unheard of it’s it’s it’s….”
“BORING!” bellowed Captain Smorgas as he rubbed the bump on his head, “Go and find the missile that, lumped me.”
Bertie ran to pick up Charlie’s lunch box.
“He stole that too AND he scoffed my lunch,” complained Charlie.
“Stealing is GOOD,” declared Captain Smorgas, “but walloping me IS NOT!”
Bertie inspected the box muttering as he did so and with a combination of running and tripping, handed it to Captain Smorgas, who in turn, lobbed it high in the air and back over the wall.
“It would be much easier if you had a rucksack,” Charlie advised, “you wouldn’t trip all the time”
“ A what sack?”
The box came somersaulting back over the wall. Smorgas did a flying leap, caught it at full stretch and strode full of nasty intentions to the wall.
“Let’s see the whites of your eyes,” he snarled.
The enemy was ready and waiting. As the captain peered cautiously over the top …
WHOOSH! An explosion of water pushed him backwards and sent him tumbling to the ground.
“AGHHH!” he yelled furiously, “Slimy, snivelling, snotty Saxons! You won’t get away with this.” He struggled to his feet and charged at the wall; he leapt up and his tummy thumped on the top. Then, scissoring his legs over, he disappeared over the other side.
Bertie and Charlie raced after him, balanced on a couple of large flower pots and peeped over the wall. They didn’t want to miss this.
What they saw amazed them.
Captain Smorgas Board had a tight grip on the end of a water-spurting hose pipe. In between gulping great glugs Captain Smorgas was threatening the hose with a variety of deathly options.
“You slimy Saxon loving snake. You are going to be very sorry you ran into Captain Smorgas Board. I am going to bash your snaky brain – then I’m going to chop off your snaky head -and slice your snaky tail into incy, wincy, snaky bits. Then I’m gonna …I’m gonna…Bertie what am I gonna do next?”
“Unravel it?” ventured Bertie.
Captain Smorgas was so wrapped up in wrestling the snake that he had not noticed that his very self was becoming wrapped up. Trevor had unscrewed the hose from the tap and was running round and round and round in shrinking circles so that the hose parcelled the Captain up like an oversized ‘cocoon’.
“Yahoo!” shouted Trevor, “Feeling a little wound up? You’re gonna have to give in?” With that he went up to Captain Smorgas, put his face very close and stuck out his tongue.
Trevor surveyed the prisoner and fiddled with his beard. The Captain was powerless.
Charlie almost felt sorry for him.
“Aha! I’m a genius!” With that Trevor disappeared into the house. Minutes later he reappeared. “These are my sister’s,” and he held up three brightly coloured hair bands. Within the tweak of a few fingers Captain Smorgas was sporting two pony tails and a plait……. in his beard.
Trevor roared with laughter.
Bertie was horror struck but Charlie struggled to suppress a grin – he did look funny!
“GRRRRRRAAAA! AGGGHH! You horrible little… verminous……son of a Saxon… just you wait till I get Brainbasher on your nasty little skull.”
“Oh yeah! How are you gonna manage that?” jeered Trevor
Captain Smorgas kept gulping down air and water, his face looked like a red canonball.
Bertie and Charlie looked on nervously.
Then a dangerous grumbling started from somewhere deep down and far away. They all looked around. The grumbling grew to a growling and the growling grew to a thunderous groaning. The ‘cocoon’ that was wrapped around Smorgas began to shake and tremble.
“Oh gracious he’s ‘pupating’,” gasped Bertie.
The thundering groan became a great gusting grunt. It was followed by a glorious, gaseous and gobsmacking BELCH!
The earth trembled, his tummy trembled and the burping explosion forced the hose to loosen and Captain Smorgas Board BURST OUT.
He exploded onto his feet brandishing Brainbasher. Trevor ran for it. His chunky legs, pumped furiously as they carried him off around the house, down the drive, along the road and into Charlie’s garden. He headed for Mrs Chuckleworth’s greenhouse.
Captain Smorgas thundered after him waving Brainbasher and shouting loudly.
“Na Na Na! You can’t catch me,” taunted Trevor.
“You Saxon-loving snake-in-the-grass! You’ll soon be hissing for mercy. Brainbasher’s gonna slice you up for supper.”
Trevor hurtled into the greenhouse and Smorgas followed.
“Trust me,” shouted Trevor, “you do not want to damage anything in here – Charlie’s mum is a right dragon.”
“Dragons? I love ’em.”
“Swish! Swash!” Brainbasher sliced through the air, through the tomato vines – tomatoes tumbled to the ground. Melons were punctured, cucumbers severed, radishes stomped on and Trevor fled for his life with the menacing Brainbasher chasing.
There was nothing Captain Smorgas Board liked more than a good chase. Trevor, though, was beginning to run out of steam, his arms were heavy and his legs were wobbling. He was gasping and wheezing by the time Smorgas dived for his ankles and felled him in one almighty thump.
“Ow!” winced Charlie, “that must have hurt.”
Charlie grinned, it was about time someone hurt Trevor.
Smorgas sat astride Trevor’s stomach and bounced up and down.
“ Stop ! Ugh ! Ugh ! S …T…O…P!” wailed Trevor, “you’re squashing me,”
“Ahhhhh, has the poor silly little Saxon got a pain in his tum-tum?
“Y ..e..ss,” moaned Trevor.
“Good, here’s some more,” and the Captain bounced harder.
“Aghh! Don’t it’s really really hurting. I give in. I give in!” wailed Trevor.
“You can’t give in yet – I haven’t finished. I’m just getting warmed up and anyway Brainbasher hasn’t had his turn yet.” He flicked Brainbasher and very neatly chopped off the long piece of hair that had hung like a curtain over Trevor’s eyes.
“Snaky little Saxons should always be able to see their enemy properly,” chortled Smorgas as he stroked Brainbasher’s blade.
“Now, what next?… Ah yes how about if I ……..?
“Captain, captain!” squeeled Bertie running up to him, “I’m starting to itch.” As proof, he was energetically scratching at his shirt sleeves. “We need to get back in the pond or we’ll miss the porthole.”
“OH NO ! That’s SO unfair. It’s always the same. Just when I’m beginning to have fun… Scratch! Scratch! Itch! Itch!” Smorgas paused and listened to the itching as it began to scrabble up his leg. “Oh Saxon Snot, I’m not itching toooooo much. Do you think I’ve just got time to just chop a few bits off him?”
As Captain Smorgasboard scratched in earnest, Mrs Chuckleworth strode down the garden bellowing, “Whatever do you think you’re doing in my garden with that dangerous weapon, sitting on a boy half your size?” She was so cross that Bertie thought she might indeed be a dragon and he steeled himself for spitting flames. “And are you responsible for the damage in my greenhouse?”
“Ah shut up wench!”
Mrs Chuckleworth’s face flashed a fiery red. She snorted and, puffing with anger, lifted an arm high in the air and launched her handbag with deadly precision.
He yelped with the pain.
Charlie ducked like an echo. He hardly dare look. Mum was volcanic, he could see the anger burning and bubbling. Red hair flying and words spilling out like lava.
“How dare you speak to me like that. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners? You rude, cheeky, insolent, naughty, unruly boy…er man…er boy… er well er… You do not speak to ME like that.”
She was exploding burning coals of anger.
The effect was startling.
Captain Smorgas Board leapt to his feet and with a running dive threw himself, with a resounding splash, into the pond – and disappeared.
“Oh dear,” Bertie said to Charlie, “that’s not a good thing to end on. I think I had better get after him. Oh my! Oh my! He’s going to be in a very bad mood for days. He hates unfinished business.” Bertie shrugged his shoulders.
“Ah well can’t be helped. It’s been a pleasure meeting you Charlie. Would you mind awfully if I kept your book with the writing in it? There’s nothing to read in Piraticus”
“It’s where out of date, retired and unemployed pirates live.”
“Not really,” said Bertie.
“Will you come back?” asked Charlie. “I’ve got a spare rucksack you could have.”
“Highly likely….unfinished business and all that…. Can’t say for sure though.”
“It would be great if you could, I could show you my lego.”
“ I’ve seen lots but I am sorry you have one, I couldn’t tell, you don’t limp at all, usually wooden legs are obvious.”
They were standing on the edge of the pond. Charlie smiled at his new friend.
“It’s even harder on the way back to empty the mind,” moaned Bertie, “Got stuck in a porthole once , it was simply awful . All those pirates bashing into me. Thanks Charlie.”
With that, Bertie plopped into the pond . Charlie watched the splash rings, crossed his fingers tightly and hoped he made it first time.
“Oy Charlie!” Trevor was striding over towards him rubbing the tuft of hair where his fringe had been. Charlie braced himself but Trevor was grinning; Charlie steeled himself.
“You have got SUCH cool mates. I never realised. That was the best time ever. I definitely want to be in your gang. You can call me TREV from now on.” Charlie stared at him in astonishment – it was like the Queen asking to be called Liz.
“Boys, boys are you alright?” Mrs Chuckleworth hurried towards them, “you must have had such a shock. Why don’t you both come inside and have a coke and a piece of chocolate cake. You can even have it in front of the television?”
Trevor flung a chummy arm around Charlie and stopped at the back door for him.
“After you Charlie.”
Charlie took a deep breath and forced himself to smile and say, “Thanks Trev.”